On this day to celebrate Martin Luther King’s legacy, I think of civil rights– on a simplistic level, being civil and human to one another. I dream that our children won’t be judged for the color of their skin, or for the size and shape of their bodies, or the color of their eyes or the texture of their hair, or whether they are “sufficiently” “male” or “female”… I wish we spent as much energy and time raising compassionate, happy children as we do on our war on “childhood obesity.” I think as a nation we would be happier and healthier.
There are casualties of this war, and bullying in schools is only one tragic example…
Weight is the #1 reason why kids are bullied.
Kids diet to try to stop bullying.
Diets don’t work . Kids who feel bad about themselves are less active, more likely to diet, engage in disordered eating and are heavier.
Here are the excerpts from middle school essays about the St. Paul, Minnesota school district’s “wellness policy,” which bans sweets etc… Remember, this is what kids are writing about the health and weight and the school policy.
“If you are obese and want to start losing weight then you could start eating healthier foods.”
“If you eat too much sugar then you can get diabetes and you would have to inject insulin into yourself.”
“I think it is a good thing that kids shouldn’t eat junk because if they eat too much people would say mean things about their body or how they look.”
“You would be ahead of everyone that was making fun of you. But don’t eat it everyday, because then you are back to what you were before.”
“Maybe you think the school shouldn’t control what you eat but you can just stuff your selves with junk when you get home; the only person you’ll be hurting is yourself. I hope you appreciate the maybe dumb sounding rules more now. I sure do!”
I wonder where kids get the idea that dieting would protect them from bullies? “Health” class maybe?
I was pretty shocked when these essays were put up on the school district’s website. It seemed to me that there was a huge red flag that kids are getting bullied. That these essays were put up as support for the program indicates a scary disconnect. Kids are sanctioned in their bullying. Victim-blaming in health classes tells kids, “if you’re fat it’s your fault, it’s your choice,” and makes bullying OK.
I am all for health, but equating health with weight loss is dangerous. Too many kids are casualties in our war on childhood obesity.
What do you think?