Fat and Sassy

my views on being larger than life.

Being teased for being a fat child makes you a sad panda – DUH February 19, 2010


doing my daily mail surfing (i have had the same yahoo address for 15 years) I saw the following headline:   Childhood Obesity Takes Psychological Toll, Too (from http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20100215/sc_livescience/childhoodobesitytakespsychologicaltolltoo).   DUH!  Like being fat, especially growing up, is fan-fucking-tastic.   Adults may catcall a fat chick as she walks down the street…bullies will make a fat kid eat mud…and oink like a pig…literally.  “Overweight kids are more likely to have depression and low self-esteem, to be teased or bullied, and to bully other children,” said Catherine Davis, associate professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Georgia. “These can be serious problems for these children.”  It’s hard NOT to have low self-esteem and suffer depression when EVERYONE when you are a fat kid is telling you that you aren’t good enough.   You aren’t thin enough for your parents, your doctor, your family.   If you have friends, they either walk all over you, or only hang out with you when nobody is watching (i actually had someone tell me that in middle school….i wasnt cool enough to be seen with but they sure would play my Nintendo).

“Overweight and obesity are terribly stigmatizing conditions, regardless of age,” said Sara Gable of the University of Missouri, Columbia. “Living as a member of a stigmatized group is stressful and can produce feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.”  FOr a child, it means never learning vital social skills because they don’t get the practice they would if NOT part of a stigmatized group.   ITs hard to jockey for social standing when you are the last one picked, and automatically shunned because of your body.  “A lot of who we are is based on how others interact with us,” said Eric Storch of the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the University of South Florida. “With kids who are overweight they internalize others’ feedback, ‘You’re fat, you’re no good, no one wants to go out with you.’ That contributes to anxiety and depression.”  And what exactly do you do about a fat child?  Starve them?  Put them on a diet?   IF being fat really IS 80% genetic, we are setting up a whole group of children to hate themselves, their body and never really trust their peers.   I for one, ALWAYS know when someone is watching me.   It’s not paranoia, but self defence…if you see and hear the kids whispering to each other about you BEFORE they tease you out loud, you can avoid that horrid “what do I do” feeling. You can arm yourself with a comeback, or get ready to read and ignore them.   We are setting up an entire swatch of people, men and women both, to be complacent in abusive relationships….its not such a far step from “im never thin (read that as good) enough”  to “its my fault, i deserved to be hit, no one else will love me anyway”   I would really like to see the statistics on weight/BMI and spousal abuse.  (if they even exist)  

Researchers are finding that overweight kids are stigmatized in the very arenas they need to “feel better”  and “lose weight”…exersize.   What former fat kid doesnt remeber the horror of gym class….or sports……or even playing in the park:

“He estimates rates of depression are as high as 20 percent in kids who are overweight.

 “It’s not simply being overweight that leads to depression,” Storch said in a telephone interview. “It’s being overweight and getting a bunch of crap about it from peers that leads to anxiety or depression.”

While one paradigm suggests weight leads to teasing, which then leads to psychological issues, another reverses those arrows to suggest depressed kids are less likely to exercise and more likely to gain weight.

In fact, Storch and his colleagues studied 100 overweight children and those at risk for being overweight, ages 8 to 18, to find out the effects of bullying. About a quarter of the children reported significant problems with bullies during the prior two weeks. The study, published in a 2007 issue of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, revealed bullying often caused kids to avoid situations where they had been picked on, such as gym class and sports fields.
Storch’s team also found bullied kids were more likely to be depressed, lonely and anxious.

“When you think about it, it makes intuitive sense, when you consider the hallmark signs of depression – sadness, fatigue, lack of interest in things you used to like,” Storch said in a statement about the study. “When kids are having a tough time with peers, and struggling with depression, then this can translate to reduced rates of physical activity.”

And researchers are seeing that this anti-obesity stigmatization starts early.   IN a national study involving 8000 kids, following kids from kindergarten through 3rd grade.   “by third grade overweight kids reported less favorable peer relations and feeling unpopular.”  Overweight girls acted out more, did worse in school.   (as reported by teachers) Kids who were fat as young as KINDERGARTEN  “were more likely to be sad, lonely and to worry than kindergarteners without extra poundage, according to reports by their teachers and the kids themselves. As overweight kids entered higher grades, these feelings just got worse.”    As a parent, you know when your kid is overweight but this “anti obesity”  message is getting out of control (even if your kids are small and underweight for their age group)….your doctor tells them…tv tells them…and books…and the health teacher….posters all over elementary schools tell kids to never have soda, only drink diet (and then sells them chips out of a vending machiene), my SIX year old told me she wanted to try and be less hungry.  Our kids are humans too…they LIVE in our culture, and they hear more than we give them credit for…childhood isnt rainbows and lemon drops…its fitting in, and being popular (or learning how to deal with NOT  being popular), dealing with your peers and learning the “norms” of society.   If a round body type is not “normal”,  if being fat is labeled “dangerous”  and “a disease” (and im not talking about nutrition here, i actually eat really well and so do my kids, i am talking about physiological body types)  “The fact that overweight boys and girls reported more loneliness and worrying suggests that, as early as first grade, they may have an understanding of the stereotypes that accompany living with the stigma, the researchers say.” 

“Gable said research on other stigmatized groups, such as racial minorities, shows these negative feelings can interfere with academic performance and other aspects of a person’s life, and “there is good reason to think” these findings would apply to children struggling with weight problems, Gable told LiveScience.” OH but we choose to be fat….a five year old CHOOSES to be teased…too have less friends, and do worse in school.(remember obesity is showing up as young as 3 months now according to research….lets tell the infants to lay off the twinkies fatty) yea fucking right.   I don’t understand when these kid are supposedly getting fat….and we know that if a kid is fat, they will be a fat adult (for the most part)  could it be because its GENETIC?   no I guess we just need to stop eating all together  /headdesk

Their tips include turn off the tv and get involved in sprots….well geuss what….I grew up with hippie parents…which mean NO tv till I was 8 and then black and white tv till middle school.  We didn’t get cable till I was in high school for the love of god.   I NEVER had a tv in my room till college.   I was in a sport every year, sometimes 2 a year.   We lived near a playground and had a big back year to play in.   And by the age of 10 I was over 100 lbs.   Because of the hippie parents, and the chem major dad we didn’t eat out (dad knew EXACTLY how dirty a restaurant could be), so i wasnt eating McD’s and getting fat.   We ate healthy, homemade meals that were not processed.  (hell for a while we baked our own bread) But it was said to me all my life growing up it was my fault I was fat…..and down that road lies eating disorders , depression and a lifetime of hating my body.  But even the headline of this article seems to blame obesity for the depression…instead of placing the blame squarely on society’s stigmatization where it belongs.

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One Response to “Being teased for being a fat child makes you a sad panda – DUH”

  1. Deeleigh Says:

    There’s this idea out there that fat people have different “lifestyles” than everyone else. When I was a kid and a teenager, I couldn’t figure out why I was fat. I was as active as the other kids. My parents were stricter with food than most of their parents. I liked to read a lot, but they limited my TV time. I’ve come to the conclusion that people like us aren’t exceptions. Body types with a 30+ BMI are quite common for people with a dependable food supply and always have been.

    What the media and the medical establishment are implying – that our bodies are somehow a result of a decadent modern lifestyle – is bullshit. But, the obsession with thinness and the resulting epidemic of dieting are making fat people fatter than they would be otherwise. Dieting causes long term weight gain and ill health. This – the prejudice and the moral imperative to diet, which is actually counterproductive – is doing a lot of harm not only to fat people, but to our society as a whole. We westerners have begun to open our eyes to the harm done by racial, ethnic and religious prejudice. But, we need to become good enough people to avoid diverting that need to feel superior into with something else, like weight prejudice.

    There have always been fat people, there will always be fat people, and there is not actually anything terrible about being a fat person – except for the prejudice and discrimination.


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