August 22, 2013

Fat Letter or Scarlett Letter?

 A couple of days ago, I read a news story that has stuck with me enough to motivate my post today. In Boston, there is a school district that is sending kids home with "fat letters" instructing their parents that their kid is fat. What's more, I hear a rumour that Toronto, Ontario is also contemplating this move to publically shame those that are already feeling crappy about themselves. What the F? The more I read about this idiocy (a.k.a. a war waged on fat based on nothing but our own fear of it) the more I am certain critical thinking has gone the way of the Dodo (get the irony there?).

This reminds me of another letter that the Puritans used in the mid 17th century to disgrace the women - and men - who were accused of adultery.  This "Scarlet Letter", although slightly different, share the same motive; to publically shame, label, and even bully the people who go against the grain of society (a.k.a. society propriety).

What these schools fail to understand (yet, the research is out there if they spent one minute to search for it) is fatness is correlated to environment, culture, the crappy processed food that is sold in stores today, family, genetics, chemicals, emotions, lifestyle behaviour, and most importantly as I'm beginning to learn, childhood trauma.  Trauma may look like abandonment, verbal and physical abuse, stressful home environment, parental or caregiver addiction, mental illness, and the like.  The point is there are so many reasons why obesity is on the rise but instead of looking at the bigger picture, it is easier to point the finger. Why not just send a shame-based letter home telling the folks that their kid is a fattie instead of becoming more aware of the real problems?

I would like to think Canadian schools have a little more awareness and critical thinking skills than the Americans (obviously, because I'm Canadian - but no offense Americans because you are my predominant readership and, therefore, highly intelligent, better looking than most, with a great sense of style).  Unfortunately, I believe this is a continnental thing...if not global...and we can't differentiate by country anymore.  Fat fears do not respect borders, states, or provinces.  People are doing some crazy things to achieve the look of thin, fit, slender, lean, or whatever the look of the day is.  Like this woman in Ontario who intentially swallowed a tape worm to lose weight (recently).  Her doctor was shocked that she could get this on-line and issued a public warning against this practice.  The fact he had to issue a public warning that swallowing a tape worm is bad for your health makes me wonder about the state of fat phobia (and the desperation) of North Americans.  I also do not want to ask how the hell she got the tape worm out (do your own research on that one)...

...That's another post for another time.

K

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