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Fat Kids are Bullied

Here is something wholly unsurprising to me and anyone else who was a fat kid: fat kids are bullied more - and are more prone to be bullies.

At this point, I'd like to think that the solution is to teach kids why bullying is wrong and won't do any good for them in life. Right? Right. But why do that when you can simply say that kids shouldn't be fat in the first place?

...the new findings underscore the importance of enlisting teachers and schools in the fight to prevent and treat obesity in children, said lead author Ian Janssen, an obesity researcher at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario.

Argh! No! No! No!

The spin on this study is incredibly frustrating. Here we have perfectly fine and good kids who are fat, and we're immediately telling them that they are in the wrong instead of considering that, gee, maybe the bullies are the ones who have something wrong with them.

This study also claims that fat girls are more likely to be excluded from social activities than fat boys, which isn't terribly surprising. This article goes so far as to suggest that if fat kids were more involved in activities, they wouldn't turn to food and television for comfort. Because we know that everyone is fat because of eating too much and watching too much TV, right?

I mean, really. If there was a study out suggesting that African-Americans were bullied against more frequently than other ethnic groups, would someone suggest they put on whiteface? [Thanks, Jeannine, Midge, and Sandy!]

Dan Savage Dislikes The Fat | The Ugly Response: Fat is Worse than Terrorism

pseu May 4th, 2004 | Link | Would they consider telling
Would they consider telling the smart geeks who are bullied to lower their grades? Somehow I doubt it. Yeesh. The problem is people who think it's ok to bully, not the people *being* bullied. If it weren't the fat kids getting picked on, it would be another group. So making all the fat kids thin wouldn't solve the problem.
JeanC May 4th, 2004 | Link | ARRGGHHHHHHHHH! No, no, no!
ARRGGHHHHHHHHH! No, no, no! Bullies don't care if kids are fat, thin or whatever, they will bully people regardless. When I was a skinny little thing, I got bullied becasue I wore glasses, then I got bullied becasue I wore braces on my teeth, then I got bullied cuz I was fat (at least according to the bullies). I stopped wearing glasses, I got rid of the braces and wasn't particularly fat and I still got bullied cuz I wasn't part of the popular crowd. Telling people that making fat kids skinny will stop the bullying is stupid and oh so wrong!
EmilyH May 4th, 2004 | Link | As a former "fat" kid who
As a former "fat" kid who was bullied, constantly, I can tell you that no matter how much I dieted and tried to lose weight, I was still bullied. I never bullied anyone myself. Trying to be skinny will not stop the bullying. Adults have to step in and not tolerate the bullying. It is not just "kids will be kids," it is generations of kids with low self-esteem and parents and teachers who turn a blind eye to it which keeps the endless cycle going. Not only that, but it is the media and schools brainwashing kids that everyone has to be thin. If schools and the media would just emphasize fitness at any size, not just thinness, it would stop. Maybe not completely, but at least it would help.
ajoyce May 4th, 2004 | Link | I echo JeanC's comments. I
I echo JeanC's comments. I wasn't particularly fat in grade school -- maybe a little chubby, but far from the fattest girl in class -- but I got picked on anyway because I cried in class. Or because I wore the "wrong" clothes. Or because I was Just Plain Old Weird. Schoolkids, like most undeveloped mammals, have a caste system. They feel like they have to pick somebody to rank on, and if there isn't a good reason to pick on someone, they're not above inventing something. It's up to the adults to let them know that kind of shit won't fly on school grounds...period.
stef May 4th, 2004 | Link | Actually, the last couple of
Actually, the last couple of paragraphs of the article focused on preventing bullying. True, they claimed that preventing bullying would make kids thinner, which is ridiculous, but at least that was the focus:
Cleveland child psychologist Sylvia Rimm, author of "Rescuing the Emotional Lives of Overweight Children," said many schools with anti-bullying programs don't specifically address overweight youngsters. Rimm said reducing bullying could help youngsters overcome their weight problems. Bullying perpetuates those problems because it isolates them, and "the only thing left for overweight kids is food and television," she said.
jolexas May 4th, 2004 | Link | Have no fear- As a future
Have no fear- As a future teacher, I will definitely be teaching my kids why bullying is bad....NOT those who are being bullied.
technomom May 4th, 2004 | Link | Following up on pseu's
Following up on pseu's comment - while teachers didn't tell this "smart kid" to lower my grades, they DID tell me not to let anyone know about my grades. Since I wasn't exactly trumpeting to the world, the only way others knew of them was because teachers don't exactly protect any student's privacy in any real way. Yet again, I am happy to be homeschooling my child.
Terri May 4th, 2004 | Link | I cannot believe the idiocy
I cannot believe the idiocy of these people. I can relate to JeanC's comments also. I always THOUGHT I was fat as a kid, but seeing photos of myself back then I wasn't all that fat at all. No, bullies will pick on anyone, regardless of who they are or what they look like, because they themselves need to feel superior to someone. THEY are the ones who need reprimanding, NOT the fat kids. When will these so-called "adults" and "experts" finally GET IT???
LLW May 4th, 2004 | Link | This author's
This author's misunderstanding makes me so sad. Blame the victims of the bullies and try to "fix" them? The author of this seems another bully to me--just a bit more sophisticated in her command of language. One thing she says is right: the victim of a bully will probably isolate himself more, and that may include watching TV a lot or reading a lot or staying close to his family when other kids are experiencing "normal" distancing. It could even result in an eating disorder, though we should be more concerned if that ED is anorexia or bulimia--compulsive overeating is by far the least harmful of the EDs. And we might be concerned about all this: isolated, this kid will be slower to develop the social skills we all need to survive, he will be brainwashed by the TV about consumerism and other empty values of the culture, and if his family is dysfunctional, being overenmeshed in it won't help him a bit; at worse, his isolation may result in his killing himself. On the other hand, if he gets into music or art or writing or study, his time in isolation might help him become a great scholar, musician, artist, writer, naturalist, astronomer, or philosopher. Maybe the best thing we can do for victims of bullies is help them find their metier. For the record, I was a stocky, athletic kid (not fat until puberty), was often picked first for sports teams, and I never experienced a single bullying incident at my grade school...nor do I ever remember witnessing one. We must have had a zero-tolerance policy (or things were going on among the boys that I simply didn't see). I was bullied at home, endlessly, about my weight, and indeed I began isolating myself from my family as soon as I was able.
Venus May 5th, 2004 | Link | I saw this in my local
I saw this in my local paper, and thought ARGGHH!!! So, the solution to fat kids being bullied is for THEM to change their bodies?? NO! Its for the bigots to change their attitudes! Isn't that like telling Jews that if we want to avoid antisemitism, we should convert to Christianity?
EmilyH May 5th, 2004 | Link | This also strikes me as
This also strikes me as narrow-minded. When I wasn't bullied for being overweight, I was bullied for being a geek. So that's like saying "quit showing signs of intelligence, quit reading so much, quit liking computers and science fiction and instead you should like fashion and makeup and stuff that girls are supposed to like, and you will be fine." The message being sent by parents and teachers, it seems to me, is that you have to do all you can to fit in and if you don't, it's entirely your fault. To me, that's wrong. We need to encourage diversity, not discourage it.
Tirinaur May 5th, 2004 | Link | Bart: I was wondering. How
Bart: I was wondering. How important is it to be popular? Homer: I'm glad you asked, son. Being popular is the most important thing in the world!
turtlegrrl May 5th, 2004 | Link | I was seriously abused at
I was seriously abused at home by alcoholic parents, sexually abused, & abused at school for being an "ugly, crippled, four-eyed freak", called weirdo, nerd, geek, ridiculed, called "limpy", "Hopalong Cassidy", "flat tire", etc. I was hit on by boys who made it clear that they would like to have sex with me, but that they could not be seen in public with me because it would damage their images & the other guys would never let them live it down. The boys in my school had a little game for phys ed class apparently, too; pushing each other to shower & dress faster, since "the last one out is Patsy Perkins' boyfriend." I wasn't fat at the time, even though, since I did not look like Twiggy, I thought I was. I suppose these experts would have told me that if I just worked hard enough, I could overcome my disability & be like everyone else. I was also told at home that no one would ever love me, that I was a burden, a nuisance, an albatross, & told things such as that I needed to try harder, to be "nice" to guys, & to hide my intelligence, because guys did not like girls who were smarter than they were. The message was never that the others were being ignorant, abusive jackasses, but that it was all about ME...that I was ugly, defective, that I was too smart & didn't try hard enough to fit in & please people. I do also resent the further perpetuation of the myth that, if we are fat, we are watching too much tv & stuffing our faces, & the solution to all our problems is to lose weight. By all means, let's keep reinforcing stereotypes & blaming victims for being abused. It's the American way, don't you know?
mercurior May 5th, 2004 | Link | i too was bullied, my
i too was bullied, my problem was when i was very young i had a speech problem, and was bullied for it, so i retreated and i became shy of speaking. i was never thin, but that just added to the bullying. so i retreated more and more reading, doing less exercise it became a vicious cycle, my mum and dad they had genius iq's i am smart as well and was told i was a geek, nerd etc.. so once again i became excluded. food doesnt judge so no exercise and food i put on weight, until i was 18 i wasnt very happy with my size but everytime something bad happened i ate and felt better comfort food its called (i used to play schoolboy rugby league where you have to be big until i fell and broke my both ankles.) Until i realised.. there is nothing wrong with me.. i am not the one with the problem, they are.. if they cant see my soul without looking at the package then they have lost out. i am happy to be my size, and weight, (just really need a bit of redistribution mind imagine a spinning top)i have come to terms with ME. i know what being bullied feels like, but to blame the people being bullied is bullying as well.. they are denegrated for being a target of bullies. it makes me angry that its happening
april May 5th, 2004 | Link | This kind of article makes
This kind of article makes me wonder if anyone who does research on children manages to connect their adult experiences to kids' experiences... Kids are bullied and browbeaten for anything that makes them different. While we as adults always talk as if we want bullying to stop, what we mostly mean is that we want our kids to be seen as acceptable and popular. Because kids just do the same things adults do where social pressures to conform are concerned; kids are just less subtle (and sometimes scary and dangerous, which is when adult intervention is REALLY needed) about it. It's no big surprise to me that the solution we come up with to kids' mistreatment is to tell the fat kids to get unfat. Isn't that what we do as adults, pressure fat people to "fit in" by getting slimmer (as if that's even possible for most)? I would hope "scientific" research would at least recognize that - but I guess in a way they are, by counting bullying as a psychological danger of being fat. Because being different is always your own fault. GRRR.
melanie May 6th, 2004 | Link | You know, the advice this
You know, the advice this article gives to the victims of bullying (which boils down to "Lose weight, and they won't pick on you") seems very similar to what is said to adult fat activists when we talk about 'fat crisis' hysteria (ie. "Lose weight, and they won't pick on you.").
2DayIs4Me May 9th, 2004 | Link | And you know, theres been a
And you know, theres been a year-long blitz of WLS tv commercials in my area advertising a local (new, small, rural) "bariatric center" whose message is basically very similar (i.e., "Lose weight, and they won't pick on you.").
Venus May 11th, 2004 | Link | What I don't understand, not
What I don't understand, not for the life of me, is why NO ONE ever picked on me publicly when I was fatter. I'm from South Philly, and us South Philly folks LOVE fights! We walk around just itching for someone to say some shit to us so we can get into a fair one, you know? And NEVER did anyone say a word to me, and I did things to try to make them say stuff eating gooey desserts in public when I was still 300 lbs. Nothing! How come?
mizz May 18th, 2004 | Link | I think that the article is
I think that the article is silly and any word other than "fat" could have been substituted and the argument would have been the same, for example "ugly kids are bullied" or "children of divorced parents are bullied" or "special education kids are bullied"... I could really go on all day. Aside from that I can say that I have been a bully and I have been bullied, and I have experienced both things at various weights. Do they really think only fat kids are picked on? Most fat kids will kick the crap out of you, as a former bully I can say I felt much safer picking on the kids that resmbled rails. Furthermore, I truly believe that most kids that are bullied tend to have low self-esteem, I did when I was bullied, and bullies can smell insecurity from a mile away. Once you know who you are no one can touch you, and if you're being bullied you probably will be none the wiser to it.

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