My Facebook newsfeed was blowing up yesterday with pictures of my friends’ kids all decked out for Halloween. Little Orphan Annies, dinosaurs, Spidermans, fairies and scary grim reapers… they all looked so excited.
Then, I saw something truly terrifying. Even terrifying for Halloween. A story about a North Dakota woman who has said she’ll be handing out a letter to “moderately obese” trick-or-treaters this year who “shouldn’t be consuming candy to the extent of other children.”
Oh no, she didn’t!
My first thought was to write an open letter to the woman asking her what she thought she would be achieving with this fat shaming tactic. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know how we feel about criticism and motivation.
But then, I noticed a silver lining to the story. Almost universally, everyone who commented on it had the same reaction. They did not support this woman’s tactics to shame children. They did not agree this was the answer to concern over childhood obesity.
Here are just a few comments I pulled off Facebook, various blogs, and media websites.
“Oh, how this made my blood pressure rise! It is one night a year and if she wants to be a health nut then pass out healthy choices. But do not belittle children and shove their obesity in their face, which I am sure they get enough of.”
“An inappropriate note is not going to solve a national problem. If this woman is so concerned with childhood obesity, she should get involved in a groups, etc. to help turn the tide rather than embarrass and hurt children.”
“Where I grew up, we had a name for the neighbors who gave out notes like this on Halloween. They were referred to as ‘the neighbors who were cleaning egg off their house, pulling toilet paper from their trees and scraping smashed pumpkins off their sidewalk.’”
Okay, okay. Maybe some people took it a little far with threats of egging and TP-ing, but their point was the same. Shaming overweight children, or using language we prefer, shaming kids who live in larger bodies is not cool.
While many of the commenters still erroneously buy into the thought that larger bodies automatically equal unhealthy or that dieting will bring about weight loss (if presented in a more helpful manner), at least they are recognizing that fat shaming is NOT the way to create healthier lives.