In school, the overweight kid is often bullied and outcast. Their torment may last until high school ends, but the impact can endure for a lifetime. To many, bullying or being bullied may seem like a phase. But in reality, it’s more serious than that. Bullying can cause lasting trauma that time alone cannot heal.
Sadly, society normalizes heavier kids being bullied. Even the media romanticizes it. Movies and books with the overweight protagonist being bullied and losing weight in revenge are far too common. As a result, kids who struggle with weight believe that they’d never be good enough until they become skinny.
Only one thing can change this: teaching body positivity in school. Body positivity is the assertion that all people deserve to have a positive body image. Whatever their weight, height, shape, or size is, every person should feel beautiful. Likewise, persons with disabilities or deformities should also be body positive.
Teaching kids to be body positive can change an entire society or culture. Overweight or underweight kids won’t be mocked anymore and trauma can be avoided, allowing kids to thrive and be kind to others when they grow up.
Body Positivity Cures “Fatphobia”:
Fatphobia is the pop culture term for the stigma of obesity. It’s fear or hatred toward overweight or obese people. People can have it without realizing it because society has ingrained into them that being overweight is undesirable or shameful.
Fatphobia manifests itself in different ways. It can appear as though coming from a good place. For example, if you constantly remind overweight people that they’re at risk of serious diseases, that’s fatphobic. It appears as an unsolicited suggestion to lose weight.
Praising someone’s looks but commenting badly about their body is a fatphobic habit, too. Telling someone that they’re pretty but they’d look so much better if they lost weight helps no one. It implies that only skinny people can be attractive and extra pounds are automatically undesirable. This harms many children, overweight or not. Children who aren’t innately skinny will always believe that they’re unattractive, while skinny kids can develop a superiority complex.
While obesity in kids should be addressed, it should be focused on their health alone, not their looks. Schools or parents can provide healthier lunch meals for the kids without saying that it’s for weight loss. All children should feel safe gaining or losing weight, not coerced.
It Prevents Body Dysmorphia:
Poor body image can lead to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). It’s a mental health condition that causes “imagined ugliness”. A person with BDD always finds something “wrong” with their bodies and claims that they need it fixed.
In kids, BDD can cause anxiety in going to school. They feel ashamed at being seen or are scared that their flaws will show, and their classmates would laugh at it. If they do come to school, they may cover up their bodies even if it’s the middle of summer. They constantly worry about their bodies, even if you reassure them that nothing is wrong.
BDD can stem from toxic societal and cultural norms about body types. Continuously teasing or shaming overweight people can cause anxiety among children. This anxiety will create a fear of being overweight because they would be bullied.
With body positivity classes, boys and girls will learn to accept their bodies for how it is. Young boys will learn that they don’t need bulky muscles to look desirable. Young girls will realize that they don’t need to be a certain shape to be beautiful. Underweight kids will benefit from it, too. They would no longer be told that they look “anorexic” or should eat more to look prettier or more handsome.
It Removes the Stigma Toward Cosmetic Enhancements:
Body positivity can help remove the stigma toward people who get cosmetic enhancements done. After all, the core of body positivity is for everyone to have a positive body image. Therefore, those who get liposuction, non-invasive weight loss procedures, lip fillers, etc., should also feel accepted and safe in their environment.
Kids shouldn’t be taught that enhancing or changing their looks is sinful. Instead, they should be taught that they are in charge of their own bodies. As such, they can choose what to do with it. They can get tattoos, piercings, cosmetic surgery, or bold hair colors as long as it makes them feel confident. This also includes hormone replacement therapy too.
If we raise children who consider all body shapes and sizes to be beautiful, it will help improve their quality of life from the jump. Tolerance and understanding are important skills that kids are never too young to learn.