"Weight bullying occurs whenever someone is stereotyped, harassed, teased, judged, or treated differently because of their size."
It is not o.k. to bully someone about their weight and then try to cushion it with "I am telling you this because I care" or the multitude of other passive-aggressive comments that come from friends, family, and my personal favorite strangers who are driven by stereotypes of being fat and decades of social brainwashing.
At the beginning of this year an advertising campaign started by the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta's "Strong4Life" program involved posting images of sad looking fat kids with slogans like "Warning: It's hard to be a little girl if you are not." and "Warning: Fat prevention begins at home. And the buffet line." on billboards and buses around Georgia. It quickly gained negative attention on the social media circuit but it did not end there.
A response group was started by Ragen Chastain (Dances With Fat blogger) called "Support All Kids". It is a "grassroots activism project" that seeks to counter the effects of the fat shaming "Strong4Life" program.
"Support All Kids" believes that eating well and being active are important to every growing child and adult but they do not believe in fat shaming children and adults as a mode to accomplish this. Their program has five specific guidelines for combating weight bullying but ensuring a healthy (physical and mental) lifestyle:
- Making sure that all kids have access to affordable, nutritious foods.
- Making sure that all kids have access to safe movement options that they enjoy.
- Encouraging a lifelong love of nutritious foods and movement through positive experiences.
- Creating an environment free from body shame and weight bullying.
- Encouraging kids to love their bodies and view them as worthy of good care.
This was not all about fat people jumping on the "don't bully us" band wagon. Donators came from all walks of life, some were overweight, some were obese, and many were neither of the two. The "Support All Kids" billboard focuses on positive reinforcement.
Fat adults have grown up with enough negative reinforcement and shaming to last two lifetimes. It has not worked so there is no way a fat shaming campaign can expect to make a difference. It is time to do away with fat shaming and bullying and focus more on enjoying life and our individuality.
Visit the "Support All Kids" website to learn more about weight bullying, health at every size, research, and how to promote health positively.