Oh No, She Didn’t: Fat Shaming Kids on Halloween

By Lisa Christie
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Childhood disappointmentsMy 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.

And to me, this is a step in the right direction.

3 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Christina says:

    Nicely said Lisa!

  • Kristen says:

    I agree that this letter seems to have struck a chord with people that helps them to recognize that fat shaming is wrong.
    So how can we reproduce that? How can we direct all of that wonderful compassion toward fat children targeted by, for instance, the “Let’s Move” campaign of Michelle Obama?

  • Like you, this was the most hair-raising part of Halloween 2013 for me, so much so that I wondered if it was an internet scam. Unfortunately I think it was all too real. Has nobody learned anything? If shame and criticism and anything related was effective, even moderately habit changing…. there would be no weight issues, no debt, no addiction, no cheating spouses…. I could go on but will spare everyone.

    And… how dare she? Seriously…how about some appropriate social boundaries? Maybe a little compassion?

    Yes, I agree the silver lining is that more people are increasingly sensitive to this issue, but so many are not.

    Good luck with any kind of deprivation, started early, in my professional experience, this leads to a long painful battle with body issues and eating that could be softened, diverted, shifted.

    Heartbreaking and yet this will only be one incident among many… just one of the more public and outrageous ones that we hear about.

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