Imagine walking into your office or classroom and being weighed and measured weekly.
Take a second to think about how you would you feel.
Now think about the fact that this is happening to kids in schools around the world
I know first-hand the shame and damage that weighing kids in school brings. One of the few memories I have of being a young girl is quite vivid: I was 8 years old and my parents took me to the bathroom to weigh me. I clearly remember weighing 130 pounds and seeing the fear on my parents’ faces. It was that very moment that I realized something was terribly wrong with me. By the time I was 12, I weighed 212 pounds despite being taken to weight watchers, diet centers and weight loss doctors. For years to come, my mantra was thin at any cost. From eating disorders to excessive exercise and drug abuse, my life centered around trying to make my body fit the thin ideal. I became fat phobic just like my parents and millions of others.
And it’s not just my story. Psychology Today states that “for the past three decades, women and, increasingly, men have been preoccupied with how they look. But the intense scrutiny hasn’t necessarily helped us see ourselves any more clearly. While as individuals we are growing heavier, our body preferences are growing thinner. And thinness is depicted everywhere as crucial to personal happiness.”
If focusing on weight loss and fitting into an “ideal body” was going to work, it would have worked by now. Yet 1/10th of 1 percent of people who diet actually lose the weight and keep it off. Placing more attention on body image isn’t helping; it’s making things worse. I agree wholeheartedly with psychologist and director of BodyMatters Australasia, Sarah McMahon that school weighing will have a detrimental impact on these kids. “They will be encouraged to pursue weight loss at any cost, setting up a myriad of issues including weight cycling and increased risk of disordered eating. Ultimately, and rather ironically, these kids are likely to diet themselves fat”
The goal of weighing kids in school is to gather more data, but what is it really costing us? By turning students into dots on a graph in our own greater experiment, we are essentially setting the stage for a lifetime of body insecurity and unhealthy relationships to food and exercise.
So, what about creating more opportunities in school for kids to move and making exercise a fun part of their daily routine?
What about offering healthy food options instead of feeding kids what is cheapest and easiest so that they can create healthy eating habits away from home?
What about teaching our kids that size and health don’t necessarily correspond, and teach about body diversity and acceptance?
How about teaching our kids that diets don’t work and shame and body image problems are actually the cause of our obesity epidemic and that they not the answer despite what the weight loss and beauty industry keeps trying to sell us?
What we’re being sold just isn’t working. In fact, it’s failing. So, let’s try something new and make moving and eating well part of a lifestyle that is not geared towards weight loss, but body love. And let us encourage our kids to eat well and move more because it is naturally what our body craves. Let’s demand that our schools stop weighing kids and start investing in moving more and feeding healthier foods.
If you or your children are in one of the schools where they are weighing kids, do some research! Just say NO.
And follow my fellow body positive warriors for more information: Fiona Sutherland, Rebecca Scritchfield, Christy Harrison and Taryn Brumfitt.