The illustration expresses an emotion felt by many overweight people. Some who are not even obese, but just a bit hefty, are very sensitive about public taunts. Today is the last day of this year’s National No Name-Calling Week. The exact dates change annually, but everywhere and all the time, people are called names and subjected to many sorts of bullying, for far too many reasons. Not surprisingly, Childhood Obesity News concentrates on the plight of obese children.
What should not even need to be stated, is that every week ought to be devoid of name-calling, fat-shaming, teasing, bullying, and the entire spectrum of behavior that involves making someone feel “less than” for being “more than.”
In 2004, the Week was founded by students and teachers, of kindergarten through the senior year of high school, with the goal of ending bullying and name-calling. Parents can help too, by looking up the how-to-take-action ideas.
Dr. Erica Lee, a psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, talks about the impact that childhood obesity can have on a child’s mental and overall health:
Weight and physical attractiveness are pretty strongly linked here in America and there’s a lot of negative stigma around being overweight or obese… This means there’s a lot of pressure and often negative attention on kids who are overweight or don’t fit that typical mold.
For any child, she recommends conversation about healthy habits. For those already experiencing weight problems,
Try to shift the conversation away from appearance or comparison to other people. Rather than focusing on a child’s weight or appearance, try to teach kids things like engaging in regular exercise and trying to have a relatively balanced diet… You can try to link it to whatever their goals are. If kids talk about wanting to be taller or doing better in school, you can explain to them that they need to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and exercise.
Regularly acknowledge that their feelings are real. Try to avoid making any negative comments about your own weight or other people’s weight, and help your kids build strong self-esteem that has absolutely nothing at all to do with their appearance.
But objections to perceived fatphobia can go too far, as shown by an anonymous social media entry by a mother who took a group of children to a trampoline park. To use the equipment, a person had to weigh in at less than 250 pounds. This woman was livid with rage at being excluded, and warned her readers, “Thin privilege is a real thing! Stop saying it doesn’t exist!”
Perhaps, but the laws of physics do exist, despite our feelings about them. If a trampoline (or Ferris wheel seat, or bicycle, or pogo stick) is determined by its manufacturer to be unsafe for anyone above a certain weight, shouldn’t we all just relax and be grateful that regulations are in place to guarantee that we are warned about such safety hazards?
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “National No Name-Calling Week,” OK2bMe.ca, undated
Source: “No Name-Calling Week Activity Guide,” UnitedWayBroward.org, undated
Source: “Mass. psychologist on emotional impact on childhood obesity,” WCVB.com, 01/09/23
Image: Public Domain