You’ve heard the news, apparently against all common sense and recent science, they want to resume weighing and measuring kids in school. I say resume because when I was 11, I remember being lined up in the front of the class in order of our weight. Or maybe it was BMI. But there I was, just behind Shane B, easily the heaviest girl in class.
It was humiliating.
I talked a little about this experience, and how it played its part in changing my thinking about my body from one that functioned and worked, to one that wasn’t okay. An opinion that my body was wrong and shameful. As a tall, heavy-set kid, my position amongst the heaviest in our small class was something that haunted me, through my classmate’s mentions and personal thoughts, for a long time.
Because it is fundamentally more shameful to be a heavy girl, right? Big boys are praised for their strength and resilience. Big girls are eyed with concern and sympathy. Fat girls don’t go far in this world, they don’t date or marry and they certainly aren’t holding up their side of the bargain. They aren’t paying the toll for existing in this world; beauty and a willingness to comply.
Maybe they thought this could change things. It could shock me into changing what was fundamentally genetic about my body at the time. That perhaps, with enough forcing and pushing, enough shame, that I could become normal. Or something resembling it anyway. Who knows what their motives were, to this day I have no idea what that lesson contained. I learned nothing.
Here’s the hot tip, for those playing at home, I’m still fat.
Even now. Even after close to a decade of disordered eating between the ages of 16 and 26. I don’t blame that process for triggering me. For starting the haphazard relationship I’ve had with food my entire teen and adult life. But, there’s one thing I’m sure of, it sure didn’t help.
And when I look at my brother’s daughter, a girl who has the very distinct pleasure of being similar to me, panic starts to set in. She is a smart, confident, beautiful, challenging, wonderful human. An active kid, with a love for making YouTube videos, creating elaborate games outside and drawing. But for some reason, shaping her into a good person; a functioning adult and someone who is respectful of other people isn’t as important as recording whether or not she’s fat.
I’m glad I’m not the only one calling bullshit.
This can’t be allowed to happen. The health and wellness of our kids (yours technically, but I’m claiming them) cannot be boiled down to this. Teach them to cook, to de-stress and relax, to move their bodies and find joy in exercise. Show them the numerous ways that bodies develop and change over a lifetime, especially if left un-interfered with. But please, don’t do this. Something like this can never end well.
Chief Blogger at Suger Coat It; An Australian lifestyle blog for women who work for themselves. Melissa is a social media consultant & lover of stripes. Most weekends you’ll find her at the beach or home on the veranda kicking back. Around here, they call her Suger. Feel free to do the same.