Tag Archives: children

Kids, Bullying and Plastic Surgery

plasticsurgeryI was somewhat floored this weekend as I listened to a brief radio report on my local public radio station about kids and plastic surgery.  The story (which made reference in the intro to Renee Zellweger’s altered appearance at a recent awards show) talked about the number of kids having plastic surgery and the reasons behind it.  The report opens by talking about the number of teenagers who have had Botox (TM) in 2013.  According to the report, that number is 17,958.  Now the report was careful to state that most of these procedures were for medical reasons.  Botox is used to treat migraines, strabismus (cross eyed) and facial spasms.  Yet when all was said and done, over 1,000 of these Botox procedures were performed on kids in America for “purely cosmetic reasons”.

Now I’m not going to tell any parent or kid what they should do with their own bodies.  It’s their body and their choice.  I don’t think I would let me kid have Botox treatments (if I had one).  But you know what, I think it’s a lot easier to judge if you are not in the situation.  In fact the report went on to state that cosmetic procedures are on the rise among young people, and experts suggest that the reasons for that rise probably include social media culture and the rise of the “selfie” as well as a rise in bullying in our schools.

My knee jerk reaction at the time was, why aren’t they fixing the BULLYING?  Why are kids undergoing the risks and rigors of plastic surgery all because kids can’t stop being mean?  And then I remembered my own school days.  There was a period in my school life, after I had moved to a new school where I was bullied relentlessly.  I was verbally abused and physically abused.  I had my property repeatedly stolen or damaged.  It was so bad, that I often got physically sick from the stress of it all.  My parents were extremely worried, but I felt that their involvement would  only make it much, much worse.  There was no surgery that could have fixed my situation.  And even if there were, I doubt we could have afforded it.  But I wonder, if there were a medical fix, that we could afford if we would have used it.  I was miserable.  My parents were deeply concerned.  Would we have undergone a medical risk if it meant that the problem would go away?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that not all people who are bullied can have that problem fixed by surgery.  The reasons for the bullying are not always physical or may not be easily physically corrected.  And even for surgery that is readily available, a whole lot of people cannot afford it.  And this lack of access to procedures that can make our social media selfie red carpet ready is just another gaping chasm between the haves and the have nots in our world.  So on the one hand I sort of feel like the families that are “opting out” of bullying by changing their physical appearance are making things even harder for the families that do not have that privilege.

It’s easy to heap scorn on the families who seem to take the whole notion of cosmetic surgery very lightly.  The report stated that husband/wife cosmetic surgeries are followed only by mommy/daughter plastic surgeries in popularity.  It’s easy to heap scorn on the privileged families who hand out boob jobs as high school graduation presents.

But I’d like to suggest that not all cases of kids and families choosing plastic surgery over bullying are quite that simple.  If I could have had a surgery to make the bullying stop, might I have done that?  I honestly don’t know.  And if I had done it, how would my life have turned out differently?  Would I be as strong?  Maybe not?  Would I be less fearful now?  Would I take greater emotional risks at this point because I spent less time as a target–less time being wounded?  And if my parents had chosen that route would they be wrong for perpetuating the need for perfection just because they wanted me to live my best life, be less in pain?

I don’t really know all the answers here, and I think that’s a good thing.  In my mind this is not a simple or black and white thing.  I sincerely believe that we need to change the culture of perfectionism, social media shallowness and cruel bullying among young people.  And I think that erasing differences by changing whatever faults the bullies choose to target in their victims ultimately make things worse for all of us.  But I think it’s important to view this subject through the lens of compassion.  Because if back then, when I was a kid, I would have been able to undergo a brief medical procedure that would make the bullying stop, even for a minute, I don’t know that I wouldn’t have done just that.

Love,  Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to come to your school and talk about bullying?  BOOK ME!

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Wicked Witch Hands Fat Kids Shame-Filled Letter instead of Candy

*Loud record scratch noise*

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog to make this public service announcement.  Apparently a woman in North Dakota called into a local radio station saying that she will hand trick-or-treaters that she deems too fat a letter along with their candy.  The thin kids will just get candy.  After the interview, she emailed a copy of the letter she plans to send along to the radio station.

Want to know what the letter will say?  Here it is in all its glory:

Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays Neighbor! [Picture of a cute pumpkin]

You are probably wondering why your child has this note; have you ever heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”?  I am disappointed in “the village” of Fargo Moorhead, West Fargo.

Your child is in my opinion moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season.

My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.

Thanks!

Yup,  apparently this woman called into a radio station (anonymously) and claimed she would be handing these letters out to the fat kids this year.  She won’t tell us her full name or where her house is.  There is no way for a parent to avoid this house with their kids because nobody [as yet] knows where she lives.  But she says she’s going to do this, because, “It takes a village, people!”.

I guess nobody told her that she’s been designated the village idiot and thus probably won’t be put in charge of the welfare of the village children this year.

This whole thing is so appalling, I frankly had a hard time figuring out where to start.  So I guess we’ll start at the beginning of this amazingly articulate missive.  *Insert eye roll here.*

It begins “Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays Neighbor”.  Because nothing says “happy holidays” quite like shaming your child in front of his peers and offering unsolicited and uninformed opinions on your parenting skills.  But that’s okay because I’ve got crappy clip art of a jack o’ lantern here, see?  And the jack o’ lantern is smiling so that means I’m being nice.

“You are probably wondering why you are receiving this note;”  Yes indeed.  I am wondering why you decided to send a judgmental and shame-filled letter home with any child.  Since we all know that shame doesn’t make kids healthier, happier or thinner, I would  really like to know why you thought it was okay to do that to a kid in front of her peers.  Given the fact that shaming kids tends to lead to unhealthy behaviors including binge eating, drug use, alcohol abuse, smoking and eating disorders, I would really like to know what made you think this was okay.

The letter goes on, “have you ever heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child?”  Yes I’ve heard this saying, but I’m pretty sure it means something different than you think it does.

Then the letter says, “I am disappointed in “the village” of Fargo Moorhead, West Fargo.”  To which I would respond.  Well I am too.  If the village contains judgmental people like you who think that, based solely on a child’s appearance you have the right to shame that kid in front of his friends and send an anonymous letter to the parents telling them that they don’t know how to raise him, I think our “village” has a problem.

Okay, this next line makes me incandescent with rage.  She says, “Your child is in my opinion moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season.”  O.M.G.  First of all, how exactly are you determining that the child tips the scales as “moderately obese”.  Are you measuring height and weight and calculating B.M.I. on the fly?  Are you pulling some skin calipers out of your “candy cauldron” and doing a little skin fold testing there on your front porch?   Or are you basing your calculations on which kids are chubby in a way that insults your delicate sensibilities?  Oh wait, I forgot.  It says it’s your opinion.  Did I ask your opinion?  Did anyone?  No?  That my dear villager is a sign you should Just. Shut. Up.

But the last sentence of the letter is the real kicker.  She closes by saying, “My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.”  It is unbelievable how many unsubstantiated assumptions this woman is able to cram into one little sentence.  It assumes that the parent is not doing their job.  It assumes that the child has unhealthy eating habits.  It assumes that the parents don’t ration candy.  It assumes that the parent is unaware that the child is chubby and is somehow negligent as a parent.   Does she know this because she knows the child and the family and the situation?  Does she have a crystal ball that shows definitively, in each particular situation what is happening in that child and family’s life?  Does she know if the kid is taking medications that make weight gain more likely?  Does she know if the kid has a metabolic disorder?  Does she know if the kid has just lost a parent or is coping with unbridled bullying at school? Or is she spewing hate all based on the fact that Tammy’s tutu is a little too tight?

And she closes with the word “Thanks”.  Yes, and let me also offer my thanks.

Thanks for shaming kids in front of their friends.  I’m sure that will make everything better.

Thanks for taking the one holiday of the year which is really about kids having fun and wrecking it for them.

Thanks for offering your completely unsolicited and unsubstantiated, bitchy and judgmental opinions on people’s parenting skills based on your personal prejudice.

Thanks for making kids cry.

Thanks for increasing the chances these kids will turn to drugs, alcohol, tobacco or an eating disorder, because everyone knows, a fun-sized Snickers bar is the worst thing in the world.

Thanks so much for staying anonymous while you are bullying kids.  Because nothing says, “It takes a village” quite like putting on a mask and lobbing fireballs at children from behind a wall at a safe distance.

The kicker has to be the moment in the radio interview when asked by the hosts of the show why she didn’t give out toys or stickers instead of candy.  Our protagonist, who identified herself only as Cheryl, said she didn’t want to be the “mean lady” in the neighborhood.

Um.  I’m sorry.  That’s not what you meant.

What you really meant is that you only wanted to be mean to the FAT kids, so that makes it okay.

Trick or Treat is supposed to mean give me a treat or I’ll play a trick on you.  All I can say, is that if this woman actually follows through and hands out these letters, she is likely to face some pretty staunch retribution. #theVillageTPdYourHouse.  I think she might find the village throwing eggs at her very fragile glass house.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick

 

Fun with Dick and Jane (and Why Tim doesn’t Exercise)

See Tim develop an eating disorder...

See Tim develop an eating disorder…

Oh my God.  Where do I even start with this monstrosity?  I was going along, minding my own business, eating my breakfast and checking out this wonderful post on Adios Barbie when I ran into this picture linked to by Allison Epstein.  And I nearly choked on my Cheerios.(R) Seriously? SERIOUSLY?  Look! It’s Fat Shaming with Dick and Jane:

See Dick and Jane and Pat.  She Dick and Jane and Pat fat shaming Tim.  See Tim.  See Tim embody negative fat stereotypes.  See Dick and Jane and Pat revel in their thin privilege.  See Tim go on a diet.  See Tim get slimmer.  See Tim get fatter.  See Tim get even fatter.  See Mom and Dad panic.  Panic parents panic!  See Tim get a gastric sleeve.  See Tim learn about dumping syndrome.  See Mom and Dad buy Tim dark colored pants.  Dump Tim dump!  Oh No!  Now Tim smells funny.  Isn’t he funny?  See Dick and Jane and Pat laugh.  See Tim want to die.  Die Tim, die…

The thing that really scares me, I mean full-out, ooga-booga, petrifies me, is that there are three organizations that have signed on to this ad.  That means at least three, purportedly professional people (and probably more) not only signed off on, but actually paid somebody to create this crap.  But that’s okay (they reason) because kids need to get out and play more, right?  And research shows, the way to get kids to go outside and play is to shame them, right? Right?

No, no, no, no, no, no, no and how about, no!

Despite the ongoing research that indicates that fat shame does not lead to permanent weight loss, and that fat stigma leads to even less healthy behaviors among kids like disordered eating, binge drinking, and more smoking, various white-coat-wearing idiots feel the need to create ads like this one.  Why?  Are they trying to create the medical equivalent of this exercise video “accidentally” catching a pooping man on camera?  (Is it an accident, or an all-new, low-bar in publicity stunts? Either way, it’s a hits bonanza!)  Do they not care that they are harming families and especially children with their stupid ads as long as they fuel parental panic and get lots of clicky poos for their hit counts?  Or have they really just not bothered to check any of the literature that shows that fat stigma harms people?  Hmmm, evil or simply, criminally irresponsible?  Hard to imagine that either are qualities I look for in a medical professional.

What is so sad, is that this ad is likely to make Tim less interested in exercise.  And this ambivalence towards exercise may last a lifetime.

But for those of you out there who are still twisting a hankie in your sweaty fingers or running around in circles yelling, “But what do we do?”  I have this advice.  If you want Tim to exercise:

1.  Create emotionally safe places for Tim to play–free from bullying or shaming.

2.  Create physically safe places for Tim to play–safe from assault and other crimes.

3.  Help Tim reconnect with and feel pride in the body he has right now.

4.  Provide safe, well-planned and excellently-executed physical education classes, and

5.  Surround Tim with role models for physical fitness that embody all shapes and sizes and abilities–like the amazing Ragen Chastain in this recent video interview from Huffington Post Live.

Seriously people.  If you want kids to exercise, give them physically and emotionally safe places to do it, give them proper instruction, provide them with great role models and teach them that exercise is something that we do because we love our bodies.

Then Dick and Jane and Pat and Tim and Sally and everybody can live happily ever after.  That is all.

Love,

The Fat Chick

P.S. Want help getting started with exercise?  My book and DVD are designed to help beginners to safely and joyfully integrate physical activities into their lives.  Enter the code DickAndJane in the discount code box to save $5 off the cover price!

Ellen and the Biggest Bully

I love the Ellen show.  I love the sweet, silly nature of it.  I  love the dance breaks.  I love Ellen’s work to end bullying.  So I was so very sad when one of my readers gave me a heads up that Jillian Michaels was going to be interviewed on the Ellen show.  Sure enough, the show aired yesterday, and I am so very disappointed.  I am so sad that Ellen had professional bully Jillian Michaels on her show for a super soft interview.  First, she let Jillian go on and on about how she’s helping people with The Biggest Loser.  Please. Who exactly is Jillian helping with that show? Scientific studies have been conducted.  One of those studies indicates that people are less likely to exercise after watching The Biggest Loser.  So the show discourages exercise.  What about weight loss?  According to Yoni Freedhoff in his excellent article “When Science Met the Biggest Loser” even former contestants of the show are unlikely to keep the weight off.  There are a few, who have since made their body size into a career with lucrative speaking engagements and product endorsements who manage to stay thin.  A group of researchers including the show’s own Robert Huizenga have determined that those participating in shows like The Biggest Loser face an extremely significant metabolic slowdown after their weight loss, making it very difficulty and extremely unlikely that participants will maintain their weight loss.  Another study cited in Freedhoff’s excellent article indicates that people who watched even a single episode of The Biggest Loser led viewers to “dramatically increase their own hateful and negative biases towards those with obesity”.

So who is Jillian helping?  She’s making millions of dollars participating in a show that increases stigma against people of size, makes people less likely to exercise and espouses a weight loss method almost guaranteed to leave participants even larger in the long run.

Next, Jillian went on to complain that her role on the show is taken out of context and that people see her as a “cartoon caricature”.  Yet, in this same episode of Ellen, Jillian participates in a segment where she “yells at Ellen” and is in turn yelled at by Sean Hays for not, yelling at Ellen well enough.  The clip concludes with Ellen and Sean making sure Jillian is gone and then stuffing popcorn and donuts into their face as quickly as they can.  So if Jillian  worried about her image as the woman who yells at people a lot, she sure has a funny way of dispelling that image.  I think it important to mention the one thing in this clip that is accurate.  There are studies that indicate that shaming and bullying people is more likely to produce binge eating and other negative health habits than to encourage healthy habits.  So score one for accuracy there.  But I don’t think Jillian is misunderstood.  She is a professional bully.  She makes her living by finding new ways to humiliate and shame fat people.  She makes MILLIONS of dollars at it.  Misunderstood?  I think she’s understood only too well.  If by chance there is some shred of decency in her, if she really doesn’t believe in behaving like a cartoon villain, guess what?  All she had to do was walk away from the show and not come back.  All she had to do was turn down those big fat paychecks.  She didn’t.  She may use that “I’m helping people” line to make herself feel better, but she isn’t making people feel better.  She isn’t making people healthier.  What she’s making is money and LOTS of it.  What’s not to understand?

Then Jillian went on to a section where she busted some exercise myths.  Please.  As if Jillian Michaels is somebody we should trust to fill us in on health and fitness.  The Biggest Loser is one of the greatest perpetrators of exercise myths on the planet.  As I pointed out in two previous posts, just about everything they do on The Biggest Loser goes against solid exercise science.  And as was stated previously in this post, science indicates that The Biggest Loser does more harm than good.  Either Jillian is in agreement with what happens on The Biggest Loser which demonstrates poor analytical skills, or she’s in disagreement with what happens on The Biggest Loser and participates merely to make a buck.  Either way, this is not a person I’m going to turn to for solid advice about health and fitness.

I can’t say I’m disappointed in Jillian.  She delivered exactly the kind of nonsense I thought she would.  But I am disappointed that Ellen caved to whatever pressure was brought to bear and allowed someone like Jillian Michaels on her show.  I’m so sad that Ellen offered yet another media platform to a person who makes her living hurting and humiliating fat people.

By the way, the petition to keep kids off The Biggest Loser is still live.  If you haven’t signed yet, you still can.  Why not do it Right Now?

Love,

The Fat Chick