Step three is about adopting anti-bullying practices at school. A 2011 study on bullying by the National Education Association found that bullying for weight and size were the most reported incidents of school bullying. Size-ism beat out sexism, racism and sexual orientation bullying. Bullying for disability and religion were numbers four and five on the list.
I mentioned this statistic to my 86-year-old father who used to be bullied as a kid. He has quite a bit of dementia, he doesn't know if he's had lunch on any given day, but can still tell you what kids said and did to him at school when he was 10 years old.
This is a well cited quote from the National Education Association report on size discrimination a few years back:
“For fat students the school experience is of one of ongoing prejudice, unnoticed discrimination, and almost constant harassment. From nursery school through college, fat students experience ostracism, discouragement, and sometimes violence.”
Studies on children bullied for their weight and size have found that weight stigmatization actually leads to increased food consumption as a coping strategy among adolescents. Research has found that weight teasing is associated with higher rates of binge eating behaviors among both boys and girls.
And, in a very famous 2010 study cited over a thousand times in the literature called Obesity Stigma: Important Condsiderations for Public Health, reported that that shaming people about their body size never once has led to people “fixing” their bodies to make them acceptable. You need good self-care practices of eating right and exercising to live at most fit version of yourself. People who are shamed most often end up ashamed of themselves, disliking themselves. Liking yourself is the necessary motivation to do the work to care for your body. You take care of things you love. You don’t take care of things you hate.
- Rebecca Puhl, "Obesity Stigma: Important Considerations for Public Health," American Journal of Public Health, 2010.
- UCONN Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity: Weight Bias and Stigma
- Bullying Resources
- United Kingdom Be Real Campaign, Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools
- NEDA Educator, Coach and Parent Toolkits