Tag Archives: shaming

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

 

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Workplace Wellness Doesn’t Heal the Bottom Line

workplace_wellness copyI think we’ve seen lots and lots of press of late concerning workplace wellness.  There are a variety of companies charging huge premiums to corporations promising companies healthier employees.  And each of these companies, in turn, promises a healthier balance sheet by reducing worker healthcare costs.  A lot of c-level employees have spent a fair amount of company cash on these promises.  So it’s probably not surprising that when Rand Corporation issued its recent report concerning the effectiveness of workplace wellness programs there was a scramble.

Rand Corporation briefly posted the government-mandated report on its site last Friday.  Very shortly after it was posted, it was withdrawn.  The following statement was posted in its stead:

“This document was posted in error and has been withdrawn pending completion of contractual obligations to the project sponsor.”

Before the document was pulled, Forbes magazine managed to snag a copy.  Forbes didn’t waste any time posting an article about the findings of the report.  I’ll summarize the report for you here.

Most workplace wellness programs don’t work.

Yup, you heard it.  It seems that most of the millions and even billions of dollars of corporate cash being dumped into workplace wellness programs that don’t offer any statistically significant benefit.  In short:

1.  Most workplace wellness programs don’t lead to better health among employees.

2.  Most workplace wellness programs don’t lead to statistically significant weight loss in employees.  On average attendees of the wellness programs lost 1 pound per year for three years.  Even those few programs that showed larger weight loss numbers,  were not able to sustain the benefits.

3.  Most workplace wellness programs don’t lead to better behavior.  Even smoking cessation programs generally led only to “short term” improvements.

4.  Most workplace wellness programs don’t lead to better health markers.  There were no statistically significant improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar.

5.  Most workplace wellness programs were unable to demonstrate lower costs for hospital or emergency care.

The bottom line is that, as a whole, the workplace wellness programs cost the companies money and did not create statistically significant cost savings.  In fact, on average, cost savings averaged $2.38/month for year one and $3.46/month for year three.

Not long after Forbes published its article, it seems that the cat was well and truly out of the bag.  And the Rand Corporation published the report.  You can see the full PDF here.

All of this is especially relevant to us fat folk.  For the past few days, I have been at the ASDAH Conference.  I’ve been leading fitness classes, speaking about Health At Every Size(R) and hearing a LOT about how workplace wellness programs disproportionally affect people of size.

The fact is, that a lot of workers who don’t have a “government-sanctioned” BMI or waist circumference are required to choose between paying higher premiums and enrolling in company “workplace wellness” programs.  Many of these programs violate worker privacy and shame workers in front of co-workers.  Imagine if you are required to go to a workplace-sponsored “Weight Watchers” program and are required to step on a scale in the same room with your boss or your co-workers.  Just think about the trauma this could cause.  Then think about that trauma in light of the fact that these programs simply don’t work.  The programs don’t help you lose weight in the long run.  These programs don’t help you be healthier.  And these programs don’t even save the company money.  It’s a lot of personal drama and trauma that provides absolutely no benefit to anyone outside of the company selling the workplace wellness program and Weight Watchers.

It doesn’t benefit the companies.  Which isn’t a super big surprise, given the fact that many c-level employees fail to scrutinize or even understand these programs before they are implemented.  According to the RAND report, only 44% of companies who used wellness programs have ever evaluated them and only 2% have “detailed information” about how much the company has saved as a result.  Uh-oh.  There goes that boat you were gonna buy with your annual bonus.

It doesn’t benefit employees.  Many employees resent being asked to show up at potentially embarrassing, and decidedly time-consuming programs that don’t work.  They don’t like it and it doesn’t improve their health.  Um, check please!

As advocates of Health At Every Size, this is a space that will be worth watching.  In the meantime, I offer this health advice absolutely free:

1.  Manage your stress.

2.  Get good quality and quantity sleep.

3.  Move around in a way that feels good and joyful to you.

4.  Eat a wide variety of foods that taste good to you, and take time to savor and enjoy them.

5.  Connect often with people you love and people who love you.

All that stuff is scientifically proven to improve your chances at good health.  And you didn’t have to take time off work, step on a scale or tell your boss your intimate health details to get that information.  You’re welcome.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

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California Gov. Health Organization “Photoshops” Kids Picture to Fight Childhood Obesity

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Good job California.  So you passed Proposition 10 to collect a fifty-cent tax on every pack of cigarettes.  You’ve used that money to create First 5 California, also known as the California Children and Families Commission which is:

dedicated to improving the lives of California’s young children and their families through a comprehensive system of education, health services, childcare, and other crucial programs.

And the commission you created with this money, chooses to use those resources to drastically retouch a picture of a little girl to make her look fat for an ad campaign designed to scare parents into limiting the amount of sugar they feed their kids.

Awesome!

Here’s the original photo, next to the retouched version:

First of all, whatever amount of state tax money that was used to do that image retouching is waaaay too much.  I could get far better design work than that done on fiverr.com for $5 USD.

Next, I have to ask, why would we spend any amount of state tax money on shaming fat parents and fat kids in the face of the fact it just doesn’t work?  In fact  study after study shows that stigmatizing and bullying kids about their weight not only fails to create thinner kids, but also tends to trigger more participation in unhealthy behaviors like smoking, drinking, substance abuse, binge eating and other forms of disordered eating.

So why exactly are we spending state tax money to create ads aimed at preventing childhood obesity that are actually more likely to increase levels of childhood obesity while at the same time encouraging our kids to engage in higher levels of destructive behavior?

I’m sure that some of the fear-mongering, hand-wringing, head-shaking folks that created this glorious ad campaign will ask you to “think about the children”.   They will cite statistics about childhood obesity and suggest that something must be done to protect the health of these poor kids.

To which I would reply, “Yes.  All kids deserve to be healthy.  So let’s focus on stuff that does that.”  Shaming kids does not make them thinner or healthier.  But there are some things we can do.  In fact, in honor of First 5, I’ll give you five suggestions:

1.  How about making sure kids have a safe place to play?

2.  How about reinstating some of the physical education programs that have been cut from schools for lack of budget?

3.  How about making sure that kids of all sizes have access to a variety of high-quality, nutritionally dense foods?

4.  How about we help fat kids learn to accept and love themselves so that they are more likely to exercise and treat themselves well?

5.  How about we add “body size” as a category for school anti-bullying programs.

Sure, these programs would be more difficult than cranking out a basic bus shelter advertisement.  And undoubtedly some of these programs would cost more than hiring the world’s worst graphic designer to “fatten up” the image of an innocent kid.  But given the fact that some of these programs might, I don’t know, help some kids live healthier lives, maybe we should just fund those instead.

As a final note, the folks at First  5 may find themselves facing some pretty well-organized and powerful opposition.  It’s already started in the form of an awesome homemade protest flyer at the site of one of the bus shelters:

Blog2But as some folks in Georgia found out, folks can get pretty riled up and do some pretty amazing things when you shame and frighten their children.

So maybe we should take a step back and a deep breath and try again.  I’m sure, upon some calm reflection, we can find better ways to promote good health for children of all sizes.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!

Biggest Loser: Part Two Corrective Guide Based on Exercise Science

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If you are doing as the advertising suggests and watching the latest season of The Biggest Loser with your family, you may have seen some stuff that is pretty disturbing.  In the first episode, we’ve got folks falling off treadmills, needing emergency medical attention and the usual Biggest Loser Barf Fest.  We’ve also got trainers yelling, screaming, insulting and bullying contestants in the hopes of helping them get in shape.  But as I suggested yesterday, this is “reality” television.  And a lot of the techniques you see on this show are the exact opposite of what we are taught as fitness professionals.   A lot of that stuff is just plain wrong.  And some of it is downright dangerous.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there is just so much misinformation about health and fitness on this season of The Biggest Loser, I just can’t fit it all into one blog post.  So here on Thursday Theater day, I bring you part two.  (Click on the photo above to see a short YouTube clip for this week’s Thursday Theater).  Let’s talk just a little bit more about what you and your kids might have “learned” on the show and why it’s a really bad idea to make it part of your fitness practice.

4.  The best way to motivate somebody to get fit is to yell, scream, curse at them, and bully them.

There’s an awful lot of evidence out there that bullying, yelling, screaming, shaming, cursing at and frightening people is a terrible long term strategy for motivating them to get and stay in shape.   People tend to be drawn to things that give them pleasure and shy away from things that cause them pain.  Being publicly shamed is extremely painful for most people.  In addition, there is ample evidence that people stick to exercise longer if they are intrinsically (internally) motivated rather than those who are extrinsically (outwardly) motivated.  So a person who identifies herself as an exerciser and works out because of the benefits she sees for herself (and also happens to enjoy the workout) is far more likely stick to exercise than someone who is motivated by shame and fear, especially if that shame and fear is applied by someone outside of themselves.  After all, what are you going to do when there isn’t a crazy mean lady who gets paid millions of dollars to scream at you every day.  Eventually you have to do it by yourself.  And you’ll have a much better chance of doing it yourself if you’ve built up the inner strength and self-esteem to be your own cheerleader.

And lest you be tempted to bully your kids into losing weight, let me tell you right now that this is likely to backfire.  Recent evidence indicates that kids being bullied from any source, be it school playgrounds, teachers, coaches and parents is likely to make kids engage in healthy behaviors and may make them gain more weight in the long run.  Not to mention the fact that kids who are bullied tend to have lower grades and poorer school attendance.  Being bullied frankly messes kids up, sometimes permanently.  If your kid is being bullied at school because he is fat, the last thing you should do is be another bully in his life.

5.  It is normal, feasible and desirable for a person to lose 10, 15 or over 20 pounds in one week.

When I was studying to be a personal trainer, I learned that there are two ways to lose 20 pounds in one week–dehydration and decapitation.  The weight loss levels on the Biggest Loser are not reasonable or sustainable by most people.  Furthermore there have been some suggestions that the length of a “week” (as long as 15 days) as well as hydration levels (including dehydrating contestants to the point of urinating blood) are manipulated to make it look like contestants are losing more weight.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health, suggests losing no more than 1/2 to 2 pounds per week. They suggest you may lose a few more pounds in the first 3 weeks of a program, but should not try to sustain weight losses at that level for more than two or three weeks without serious medical supervision.

Rapid weight loss can lead to a variety of health problems including gallstones, dehydration, dizziness, depression, and loss of lean muscle including heart muscle.  If you goal is health, the last thing in the world you want to do is lose lean muscle mass.  And losing muscle mass in your heart can be seriously dangerous.

Long story short, it’s not really safe or sustainable to lose more than two pounds per week at home.

To sum up, The Biggest Loser is a commercial television show on a for-profit network.  Press releases, promotional video and pompous rhetoric aside, their main goal is to make money.  Television shows make money by having better ratings.  Losing 1/2 pound per week in a rational sustainable way may be the healthiest option, but it makes for lousy TV.  Please take these facts into consideration as you watch the show, and decide whether or not to use anything on that show as a guide for your own health practice.  Because what makes for good TV may not make for a healthy body.  Please let common sense be your guide.

Love,

The Fat Chick

P.S.  If you are upset that The Biggest Loser has chosen to take on “childhood obesity” this season, consider signing our petition here.

If you’re looking for sensible and rational assistance for your exercise efforts, consider joining The Fat Chick’s Personal Training Programs.  If you sign up before January 14, you can try any of my training programs for just $25.  We’re also offering special training groups on the Fit Fatties Forum starting at just $10 per month!

There is a lot of very detailed and specific information about how to build a safe and pleasurable exercise regime found in my book The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of all Ages, Shapes, Sizes and Abilities).  You can pick up an autographed copy for just $16.95 (plus S+H) on my website.

Also remember that a little exercise adds up to a lot over time.  And exercise is more fun when you do it together.  So you might want to consider adding your exercise totals to our Fit Fatties Across America program.  We’re pooling all of our exercise minutes and miles as we make our way across the country.  We went 167 miles in the first few days of the program, and we’re hoping to reach St. Louis this week!  Make sure to enter your exercise data by noon on Friday to count towards this week’s totals!