Tag Archives: teasing

Weight (Stigma) Affects School Children’s Grades

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My dear friend and colleague Angela Meadows recently penned this important article for The Conversation discussing the issues surrounding weight, school children and academic performance.  There have been  a number of studies over the years linking higher weights with lower performance in school–particularly among female pre-teens and teenagers.  Many of these studies have sought and eliminated co-variables in other health issues, potential depression and the onset of menses in women.  However, many of these early studies seemed to avoid what would seem the most obvious connection between school performance and weight–the impact of weight stigma on school children of all ages (especially girls).

Angela then shared with us the results of a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health specifically documenting the results of weight stigma on kids  in school.  For the most part, the study which followed over 3,000 kids for over 10 years found no significant difference in test scores for the kids who became fatter.  However, the study indicated that as the students weights went up, the teacher’s evaluation of the kids abilities went down.  (Primarily for reading in girls and math in boys).   And to a certain extent, as weights went up, the students evaluations of their own abilities went down.  Although, the studies didn’t specifically measure attitudes of weight bias in teachers, Angela pointed to other studies that do just that.

Angela goes on to discuss important research linking weight stigma to bullying by other children as well as studies that indicate that much of the lag in academic achievement by fatter kids can be explained by bullying from both fellow students and educators.

I have not been shy in the past in saying and saying and SAYING that stigma does not make people healthier, happier or thinner.  In fact weight stigma makes people less likely to seek medical treatment, leads to disordered eating and risky behaviors, leads to more stress, anxiety and illness and yes, leads to lower academic performance.  And since there is literally no scientifically proven way to help most people lose a lot of weight and keep it off, perhaps telling people to lose weight to avoid this stigma is ill advised.

We know that weight-based stigma is harmful for people of all ages, yet we continue to march in the war on obesity for the fatties’ own good.  We continue to fight body fat and ignore the plain fact that it is our societal attitude towards fat people that is causing much of the damage.  We continue to wring our hands and shout “What about the children?” as an excuse for maintaining this war on big bodies, without addressing the simple fact that the number one casualty of the “war on obesity” seems to be from “friendly fire” on the folks we are purporting to help.  At what point will we finally realize that stigmatizing children into a fruitless attempt to change their body size so that they can avoid weight stigma is at best, seriously messed up?

I hope that moment is coming and I hope it is coming soon.  Our kids have enough to deal with just trying to grow up in this world without being victimized by the very people who we engage to help them.  I hope that we can start some efforts to seriously help our educators and child caretakers recognize weight bias in themselves and work to push past it.  I hope that we can stop allowing our kids to be collateral damage from a war that it is nearly impossible for them to win.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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The Fat Chick on TV: Talking About Body Snarking

Hello my friends!  I am excited to share with you this interview from CBS news in LA about “body snarking”.  This is a relatively new term that refers to feeling the need to comment on the bodies of other people, usually in a nasty, negative or sarcastic way.  Seems  like this has really come to the forefront after Lady Gaga started speaking out about her weight.  Don’t be stressed out by the sad stuff in the beginning of the story.  I think it ends in my happy place!  And I’m pleased to be included in story about body snarking that suggests learning to deal with the “snarkers” rather than suggesting that the “snarkees” simply need to lose weight.  It’s surprising now to have two major news outlets here in LA, the home of the plastic people, do relatively positive stories on body acceptance.  Along with the other major worldwide coverage we’ve been seeing, I’m hopeful that the tide is turning.

What do you think?  Is it getting harder or easier to talk about size acceptance and HAES these days?  I’d love to hear from you!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Haters Gonna Hate

When you’re THIS awesome, some people just can’t handle it!

Yesterday, in our talk about stepping out, we discussed the notion that often you don’t know what’s in a person’s head, so you might as well imagine they are thinking well of you. But what happens when you think somebody is mean spirited and nasty and then they open their big mouths and remove all doubt?

In our not so genteel society, sometimes people are going to say nasty things.  If they don’t say them to you in person, they will certainly say them online in comments or on Facebook.  They may moo as you walk past or yell something like, “Just put down the cheeseburger!”  At some point in life it happens to all of us.

And that’s really the first step to recognizing that it happens to all of us.  Short, tall, round, thin–everybody gets something nasty yelled at them at some point.  Heck you can’t even be the president without worrying about somebody throwing a shoe at you.  The amazing Ragen Chastain gets so much nastiness thrown at her, she created a separate blog to contain some of the more ridiculous comments.  And even if you were model thin, and rich, and drove a fancy car, people would find reasons to hate on you.  Maybe they would find even more.

That’s because, believe it or not, the actions of haters really have nothing to do with you.  It’s about them.  It’s about them feeling jealous or inadequate or lonely or insecure.  It’s about them desperately trying to recapture their lost mojo by peeing in your pool.  And since you can’t fix the whole world, sometimes you just gotta accept that haters are gonna hate.  Bless them, and move on.  Sometimes I talk to them and give them a piece of my mind first if I’m feeling feisty.  But ultimately, after I’ve had my talk with them, I say, “Bless their hearts” and then move on.

Is it easy?  Oh my goodness, no.  It’s really hard.  And I know sometimes all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry.  But then, from a practical standpoint, I really don’t want to let that hater win.  I don’t want to reenforce that crappy behavior, and I don’t want to give that creep that kind of power over me.  So when I feel down, I go read Ragen’s hate mail and realize I’m not alone.  I call a good friend, get dressed up and go have coffee or an adult beverage somewhere fabulous.  I pull out my positive artwork and read some of the great things my friends have recently said online.

Because at the end of the day, my little chicklettes, you can only control your reaction to the world.  You can only focus on being fiercely and completely yourself.  Because at the end of the day, haters are gonna hate.

Love,

The Fat Chick