This is the last of my series on bullying as it relates to kids. Yes, bullying still happens to adults. Bosses bully, co-workers bully, mates bully, and even parents bully. However, since my primary interest is increasing awareness about kid-bullying, the other types of intimidation will have to be left to a later time. Instead, I want to talk about fat smearing—that is making fun of someone because of his/her weight. Yes—I know, some of you will see this and say, “Well she feels that way because she is fat.” Yes, I am. However, I am an adult, and I have to power to tell you where to jump. Kids do not.
Today, one out of every three kids in America is overweight. Everyone from the First Lady, Michelle Obama, to Hollywood celebrities and well-known athletes have climbed on the bandwagon to bring attention to the “problem” and encourage parents to get their children to move and eat better. Great idea. But what happens when both parents have to work to put food on the table, and the child is a lock-key kid? Who is there to make them “move” then? Or, what happens when the parents (or parent) cannot afford to provide fresh vegetables and fruit? Fresh foods are not exactly cheap these days.
I am not saying that bringing attention to the problem isn’t important. And, I don’t agree with Jennifer Lawrence (star of the Hunger Games) who believes the word “Fat” should be illegal. It is. However, I believe that centering the spotlight on childhood obesity as an easily fixed problem, has also increased the bullying against kids who fit into that category.
Fat smearing is not new. Rhymes such as “fat, fat, water rat, fifty bullets in his hat” or “Jack sprat could eat no fat, and his wife could eat no lean” have been around for decades. It is just that with all the headlines hitting kids everyday about how important it is to lose weight, I believe, has led to an increase in bullying. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that an overweight child is more likely to be bullied than a kid who is not overweight. So what can you do if your child is bullied because of his/her weight?
· Let your child know that bullying—any bullying is wrong.
· Let your child know that you love him/her unconditionally.
· Talk to the child about how the bullying made him/her feel.
· Go to the principal, teacher, or other parent with the child to make the bullying stop.
· Finally, if your child decides he/she needs to lose weight, center your conversations and solutions on getting healthy not on their weight.